Pubdate: Tue, 18 Dec 2007
Source: Appalachian News-Express (KY)
Copyright: 2007 Appalachian News-Express
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Combating our nation's substance abuse problem 
requires engaged citizens in every community -- such as those 
involved with Operation UNITE's efforts in Eastern Kentucky, 
President George Bush said Tuesday during a press conference.

"All Americans have a responsibility to encourage people to turn away 
from the losing spiral of addiction and to make good choices in life. 
But the great thing about our country, and the reason I'm so 
optimistic, is there are thousands and thousands of people willing to 
take the lead in their own communities -- people who have seen a 
problem and said, we're going to do something about it, like this 
good woman right here from Eastern Kentucky," said Bush, pointing to 
UNITE President/CEO Karen Engle.

Engle was one of 12 people from across the country selected to 
participate in a 45-minute private roundtable discussion with 
President Bush prior to his announcing results from the latest 
Monitoring the Future (MTF) Study, which tracks drug use among 
America's young people.

"It was truly an honor to be asked to share UNITE's vision with the 
president," Engle said. "He wanted to hear from and thank people for 
getting involved in reducing youth drug use. This reflects highly 
upon the efforts of so many citizens in southern and eastern Kentucky 
during the past four years."

The MTF study showed an approximate 24 percent drop in use of any 
illicit drugs by youth from 2001 to 2007, Bush stated during the 
briefing, held in the Dwight D.  Eisenhower Executive Office 
Building. Marijuana use decreased approximately 25 percent, steroid 
use by roughly one-third, and methamphetamine use by about 64 percent.

An exception to that trend is a rise in the use of prescription drugs 
- -- a well-documented problem facing those living in Appalachia. Teen 
abuse of prescription painkillers remains the second largest category 
of abuse, behind marijuana.

While there is much progress to celebrate, Bush stressed that the 
work is not finished.

"Thousands of children still live in homes torn apart by drugs. 
Thousands more are still considering whether to try drugs for the 
first time," the president remarked. "It's up to all Americans to be 
involved in this important struggle against drug addiction. It's up 
to all of us to urge our fellow citizens to make the right choice -- 
and to help those who make the wrong choice understand the 
consequences and that there is a more hopeful future."

Efforts to curb substance abuse will only be successful with a 
balanced, coordinated approach, Bush said. "On the one hand, we'll 
interdict and prevent and disrupt the drug supply networks, and on 
the other hand, we'll work to convince people they shouldn't use 
drugs in the first place; and those that have, there's prevention -- 
there's recovery programs for you."

"This is the approach UNITE has taken from day one," Engle said. 
"While each component -- investigations, treatment and education -- 
is important, long-term success must include collaboration to ensure 
all needs are met."

Although government can provide encouragement and resources, Bush 
emphasized that "the true work is done at the grassroots level."

"On the front lines of this efforts are parents, are teachers, are 
counselors who are sending our kids a clear message: Drug use is not 
fun, it is not glamorous, it is harmful," Bush said. "And I want to 
thank those who are making that a clear message. Drugs destroys lives." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake